Liverpool are reportedly in the market for Real Madrid veteran Nacho Fernandez.
According to a recent report from Spanish media outlet AS, the Reds are one of three clubs who have expressed an interest in the 31-year-old.
The report claims that Roma have already made two approaches for Nacho, while Juventus are also cited as a potential suitor.
Liverpool’s centre-back conundrum
Major injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, as well as Joel Matip’s recurring problems, have deprived Jurgen Klopp of his most trusted defensive options for large periods of the 2020/21 campaign.
Nat Phillips and January signing Ozan Kabak have established a promising partnership in recent weeks, but the latter may well depart following the conclusion of his temporary loan deal.
Liverpool do have an option to make Kabak’s stay permanent but it remains to be seen if they will trigger that clause.
What is certain is that Liverpool need to recruit a new defender in the summer window, and Nacho carries a strong weight of appeal having spent the entirety of his career at Real Madrid.
Nacho the model professional
“Nacho has behaved like a professional throughout his career, not just now, and is always important when he plays,” said Zinedine Zidane following his performance in Real’s 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on January 2 earlier this year.
That may come across as a fairly generic compliment from Zidane, but there is far more to this quote than initially meets the eye.
As a 12-year-old, Nacho was diagnosed with diabetes and initially told that his dreams of becoming a professional footballer were over.
“I was only twelve when I found out I was diabetic. I’d been on Real Madrid’s books for two years and obviously it was a tough time.
“I remember going to the hospital – I was supposed to go to a tournament with Real Madrid but I had to miss it – and I was seen by a doctor, not an endocrinologist. She told me my footballing days were over. I had a really tough time that weekend.
“Three days later I saw Dr. Ramírez, who would become my regular endocrinologist and whom I’ve grown very fond of. He told me the complete opposite: in no way was football over for me. In fact, it was essential I continued playing because physical exercise is very important. That Monday, my life started again.”
The Spain international has had to work harder than most to enjoy a career with arguably the biggest club on the planet, and his versatility has made him an integral squad player for Los Blancos.
He is a right-footed centre-back by trade who can seamlessly slot in at both right-back and also at left-back, such is the extent of his quality on his weaker foot.
Experienced partner for Van Dijk
There is one divisive question at Liverpool that’s yet to be answered: who should partner Van Dijk in Liverpool’s back four?
Matip is arguably the most solid of the options available to Klopp, but he rarely stays fit for a sustained period of time. Gomez, meanwhile, is still developing and has plenty of mistakes to iron out of his game, and the same can be said for the rapidly improving Kabak.
However, none of Klopp’s options can boast such rich experience at an iconic footballing institution of Real Madrid’s stature.
Nacho has played 220 times for the club and won four Champions League titles and two La Liga titles during his career.
Liverpool have sorely missed the presence of an experienced figurehead in the backline during their torrid title defence, but they could rectify that gap in the squad with a move for Nacho in the summer window.
Given his contract is due to expire in 2022 and with a Transfermarkt valuation of just £9m, a deal for Nacho could yet prove to be another Michael Edwards masterstroke.